T Nation

Which Body to Build?


I'm starting all sorts of discussions these days. This particular can of worms is a discussion on the definition of 'Better Body.' I've realized that there are many variations on the exact definition.

There are 'old school' folks on this site who might be nodding their heads in understanding. They are thinking of the recognizable body parts of former champions. Why could they be recognized? Because they were either not the classic definition of better body, or they were used to set the standard for better body.

The other side of this discussion is the classic one of form or function? Do you build just to look good nekkid? Do you build to win competitions? Do you build so you can do your job or win at a sport? Each of those goals has a different sort of definition of better body.

I don't expect conclusions, just a sharing of opinions. I think that each person who walks into a gym has their own definition of better and works to achieve that for themselves. But which one and why?


Okay. I'm taking the bait. I think.

I just want to look good nekkid. Therefore, I will do better in my sport(s).

Besides, it's a fun hobby. And the gym is full of hot girls.


I want to be healthy and satisfied with my body shape. Currently, round is not the shape I'm enjoying!


Just to look good nekkid, and to keep a strong lower back to help with sporting activities.


I lift weights to stand out. I may or may not compete one day, but I at least want to eventually get into the condition where it seems as if I could do so within 4 months if I chose to. I actually passed up my original goal a while back so much of what I do now is just seeing what I am capable of. That is also why I have a strong goal to get stronger.


I want to be STRONG and big. I like looking good, I like having heads turn(esp when lifting something heavy. Right now this only happens when doing chins :frowning: ), but I want every ounce of mass I add to make me stronger (meaning I never go above 8 reps, and usually stay around 5-6 for now, as I'm a beginner, but I intend to go even lower on my reps as I advance).

Also I want to be have a LOT of relative strength (for me a functional body simply has a lot of relative strength, healthy joints and strong back)(like all those bodybuilders of age past, one arm chins, one arm front levers, etc.)- I should get an one arm chin in about two months...

Forgot... In terms of how I want to look:bear/lumberjack/any big mean creature of the past(meaning I won't be bothered if my BF is above 10% and I have fur on my chest =)). I noticed all my "fatter" friends feel a lot less pain when hit, even though they have less muscle)


I'm going for something like this...


I like your definitions of 'better' mostly because you have a mixed set of form and function goals, while still keeping in mind your own genetics and abilities. You might be a beginner like I am, but you've really given some thought to your goals.

One arm chins? Dang! Can I watch? I don't think I'll ever be able to do that!


I train to become stronger in mind and body. I don't compete, never have. Training for me is a way to challenge myself, to learn to overcome and not be complacent. I enjoy the independence that strength brings, both mental and physical. If I can gear up myself for a tough hour of deadlifting, I can do anything. I also enjoy the look it imparts. I've always been very thin, so looking good naked was not an issue. Gaining weight and looking strong was the tough part. I struggle to keep the weight on. When I started lifting in the 80's I weighed about 110 pounds (I'm 5'6"). I now hover around 146 to 150, and I still stay pretty lean. It's taken a long time, but I wanted to look strong and to set myself apart from other women. I want to send an nonverbal message that I am strong, independent and to be taken very, very seriously. This has spilled over into my work and makes me very effective as a regulator.

I am also rapidly approaching 50. I am finding that this is when it really starts to pay off. My goal is to keep getting stronger every year. No reason not to.


Well, even though I much prefer the physiques of the 70s, they were certainly pec, delt and bicep dominant with deficient backs, and legs (especially hamstrings) and backs and hamstrings are probably the clearest sign of functional muscle.

Also, the V taper is not really functional as a wider midsection provides a core of strength.

I think we got certain bodyparts in our minds BECAUSE of Arnold and never let go of those.


I'm 6'0", and I'd like to be 190 pounds ripped. Right now I'm 185 pounds kinda ripped (5.6% by callipers). I like this look because not only do women love it (in my experience), but it allows me to kick ass in any sport. As a collegiate tennis player, I found it impossible to keep my agility when I bulked up to 200 lbs.


I want to look hottER nekkid :wink: And feel that I could go in a figure competition and kick ass with not too much prep. I don't want to look competition ready but look so that I could be easily but carrying a bit more oomph on my T & A :wink:


Finally. Ummm, I could keep you up to date with my progress if you would like to...

Forgot to mention: I want a BIG waist... HUGE obliques, a big rectus, very thick spinal erectors... My problem is that I am very lean by nature, and I totally hate eating, I find it near impossible to add muscle, and I think I couldn't add fat not even if I'd try my hardest... ate 4000cals/day once and I got VEINS on my abs and back LMAO... I think this explains why I have recently focused towards realtive strength...


For me, the definition of a better body has changed. I used to lift to be stronger and be able to work harder and faster. My job used to require heavy lifting and a generaly high activity level for long stretches-12-14 hours a day doing tree and stump removal. For that I found it best to be about 150 lbs and very lean. Also had to chow about 6000 cal. a day to maintain that.

Now I do office work and just want to move as much weight as possible in squat dead and bench. For that I have had to make some changes in diet and excercise choice. My most recent goal is 185 lbs, lean would be nice, but not necessary, bench 350, squat and dead in the high 4's. For that the better body will be one that can move that much weight without breaking.

So, I think a better body is one that has adapted to the goal.
Hope that wasn't too long.


That sounds like you really want a lot of core. But if your core is massive, isn't that more weight to lift with one arm? Can you achieve both goals at the same time?

It's not a bad thing to have veins, ya know... They are pretty darned useful.
Lonnie L. recommended that I put as much variety in my diet as possible. He said to eat different greens, different meats, not just chicken, tuna, green beans and iceberg. He felt that was better than always the same few dishes. I like following that advice. What you are eating is more interesting and I felt that I was getting a broader and more complete range of nutrients.

Please keep me updated on your progress on the one armed chins. I'll cheer you on!


More detail. Somebody above mentioned physiques from the 70's. Frank Zane has (had) my ideal physique. When I started lifting 5 years ago, it was to re-hab my back. Never did I imagine that I would gain 35 lbs and look way better now than I did then. Plus I'm way stronger.


For me it's all about function. I need to have great relative strength, and I need high levels of power, flexability and stamina. The side effect is that I look great nekkid, and can perform well for my chosen activities.



I lift to not only look good naked or clothed, but to do what no one said I could do. I had a series of abdominal operations which were not minor. They all stemmed from a ruptured appendix when I was 12. Internal scar tissue has wrecked peristalsis on a number of occasions leading to lengthy stays in hospitals and losing scary amounts of weight.

So every day I lift, every pound that I gain, every PR I set, I win a battle of personal goals against said expectaions. I look better than most people who never went through anything like I have. So I lift because I dictate my fate and no one else.


For me, I used to lift back when I was 20 because I'd gained a fair bit of weight. I was content in my relationship, and we both kind of let things go. I wanted to look and feel better about myself. I really got into it, within 1 year losing about 25 pounds, while looking good overall. I used to feel my best around 165#s, at 5'10.5. After 9 months, I got hit with nasty flu, lost 18 pounds in 10 days, and was practically immaciated. At 138 pounds, I looked and felt unhealthy. My doc wanted me to gain weight, but I was so depressed, I didn't want to go back to the gym. After several months of force feeding myself, I did gain my weight back.. in fat. Since my metabolism had gone to shit, I had a terrible time... my weight kept climbing, and a climbing, till I hit 186 and 27% body fat (though I didn't know that till I finally joined the gym again in February.) I have a condition which breaks down muscle tissue and prevents protien synthesis, so for me, I'm taking this as a challenge. It's about health, first and foremost. But, I also want to look and feel good again. I'm actually fairly happy with the 185# number. I could even weight a bit more.. but what's important to me isn't weight, it's having muscle mass. I also want to hit the sub 10% range for the first time in my life. I'll be pretty happy then, but don't think I'll ever let depression or anything else ever get in the way of my goals ever again!

Oh, and for the record, since February, I'm down from 27%BF to 17.4%. YAWP!